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Old Jan 11, 2013, 01:43 PM   #1
macrumors 65816
Join Date: Mar 2009
XCode development: upgrade late 2008 13" macbook to....

I'm a software developer, doing primarily mobile development for iOS and Android.

I currently use a late 2008 aluminum Macbook (Core 2 Duo), 2gHz, which I have upgraded with 8GB RAM and a "fusion-like" Seagate drive.

I normally operate it with the clamshell closed, and two 1600x1200 monitors - one driven off of the mini-display port, and one using an external USB adapter.

With recent releases of the cross-platform development framework I use (Rhodes - uses an embedded Ruby server and webview/HTML/CSS/Javascript for UI) the build process (using XCode) has gotten longer and longer, to the point where it is now burdensome (several minutes for a build, bringing back my days of compiling and linking C applications on the first IBM PC). I think this is partly because Rhodes does not manage the build process well, and many (but not all) files are unnecessarily re-built each time - but I can't do anything about that. As well, the Android emulator is hopelessly sluggish.

I've been concentrating more on jQuery Mobile development recently, and that isn't very processor-intense. (Worst thing is the Middleman static site generator I use, and that's not that bad on this setup.) But now I am going back to full-time Rhodes development, and I think I should upgrade.

A maxed-out current Mac Pro is a bit rich for my blood, so I am wondering how much improvement I might get from some other alternatives. I don't think I want to get a new notebook, as what I have is still sufficient for my travel needs (almost never) and so I don't want to pay the premium for a new notebook.

Oh, I'd like it to fit in a rackmout case. Just on a shelf is OK. Vertical-mount of a Mac Pro is not OK. I have seen a kit where you remove the "feet" and it barely fits in a 19" rack. I think then a Mac Pro would fit in 6U?

So, I am considering:

- A used Mac Pro. But I know I'd want to stick with a newer model, and this is still quite costly.

- The latest Mac Mini, with third-party memory expansion to 16GB and fusion drive. I would think that the quad-core i7, with hyperthreading (so, 8 threads) is going to beat the pants off of my Core 2 Duo mobile processor. (By how much?)

- Used Xserve? What about two monitors? The USB solution I have right now is acceptable, but there is some lag on the second screen. I'd prefer to use a second port on a built-in adapter or PCI bus card.

I beleive XCode has some distributed-build capability, so I assume I could still farm-out part of the build to my Macbook? I assume that XCode will deal with keeping prerequesites straight, and send some files to the Macbook for distributed build?

So, then, might it not be a bad upgrade strategy to just keep adding Mac Minis? I could buy 2-4 for the price of a Mac Pro (even used), and do it incrementally on an as-needed basis.

Edit: did some research, just looking at Geekbench scores. Looks like my Macbook get s score of 3641, while a 2.6gHz 4-core current Mini gets 12,809. So, 3 times as fast, but does this play-out in practice?

I would need to stick to very recent Mac Pros to best that.

Last edited by jtara; Jan 11, 2013 at 01:54 PM.
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